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Kristine Aghalaryan

Georgian Authorities Target Javakhk Armenians Aligned with Opposition

Yesterday, Georgian authorities arrested Javakhk Armenian activist Georgy Mkhchyan, who had recently aligned himself with Georgia’s opposition Dream Party, charging him with real estate fraud.

Local observers claim that this arrest is the latest in a series of moves by Georgia targeting Javakhk Armenians who are working with the Georgian opposition.

The real estate, in the town of Akhalkalak, recently became the regional office of the Dream Party led by Bidzina Ivanishvili.

Investigators from the Georgian Ministry of Finance have accused Mkhchyan of falsifying documents regarding the purchase of the site. If found guilty, Mkhchyan faces 4-7 years imprisonment.

Also accused in the fraudulent land deal is Melik Rayisyan, a former member of the Georgian parliament. Rayisyan was charged with fraud two days after joining the Georgian Dream Party and expressing his support for Ivanishvili.

Georgian law enforcement is now looking for Rayisyan who, up until 2008, was twice elected to represent the Akhalkalak district in the Georgian parliament.

Rayisyan and his family lived in Akhalkalak till 2004 and then moved to Tbilisi, where they resided till 2007. . That year, Rayisyan moved to Armenia, while maintaining residences in Tbilisi and Akhalkalak, settling in Armenia permanently in 2008.

Georgy Mkhchyan worked as Rayisyan’s chauffeur for five years, joining the Dream Party as well.

Melik Rayisyan’s son claims that the police search for his father and the arrest of Georgy Mkhchyan are politically motivated, linking them to the fact that both men recently joined the opposition Dream Party.

As to why Rayisyan, who until 2008 had worked closely with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, decided to join the opposition, his son told Hetq that his father was “concerned about the increasing Turkification of Javakhk under the current Georgian regime.”

“My father, understanding the severe political and social situation of Javakhk and the Javakhk Armenians, has always desired to improve things and defend the interest of the people. That’s why he joined the opposition, to put an end to the reign of terror and intimidation by the authorities.”

The son couldn’t say how his father planned to stop the Turkification of Javakhk.

Georgy Mkhchyan’s father Alik is also convinced that his son was arrested for being a member of the Dream Party.

“My son was an activist who wanted the Armenians to remain here. It’s a lie that he falsified any real estate documents,” says Alik Mkhchyan.

Georgy Mkhchyan’s attorney has said that the court will not hear the case for another two months.

After arresting Georgy, Georgian authorities moved him to Akhaltskha and then to Tbilisi.